Welcome to the May edition of Note to Shelf. As we start the countdown to summer, we’re pleased to share the theme for this year’s Adult Summer Reading Program, "Reaching For The Stars." All of our summer reading programs will blast-off with a kick-off party on Saturday, June 8th at 2 p.m. The all-ages party will feature games, music, face painting, and ice cream! Staff will be there to share information on the reading programs, and help register kids and teens. We’ll also have staff on-hand to help grown-ups with their own summer reading selections, with game cards once again available at the Welcome Desk. In keeping with our space theme, the grand prize for Adult Summer Reading is a one year family membership to the American Museum of Natural History, home to The Hayden Planetarium.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner, is an ambitious story of two sisters, Jo and Bethie, from their Detroit childhood in the 1950s, to the early 2000s. Jo is the daughter who follows her own path and will not, or could not conform to the norms of the time. Her mother finds her extremely difficult to parent, but her hero father is there to tell her she is fine the way she is. Bethie, on the other hand, is the "good" daughter who does everything correctly. Life changes for the family when the father dies suddenly leaving the family in financial difficulty and emotional turmoil. The sisters grow up in a time when society is dealing with countless issues and these characters will face many including: antisemitism, illegal abortion, interracial relations, the Vietnam War, drugs, race riots, and homophobia to name a few. Ms.Weiner presents the issues of the time, but after a while I felt she was crossing topics off a list. I will say though, I enjoyed the book and found the characters quite believable.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read. You are immediately transported across the world to a country in transition, on the edge of civil war, and within it two characters who navigate the turbulent times in their own ways. Throughout this suspenseful story, Hamid’s writing style is incredibly descriptive, poetic, and exciting. That’s really all I can say without giving too much away, but definitely check this one out!
A perfect family is shattered in Run Away, a new thriller by Harlan Coben. Simon Green hasn't seen his missing daughter Page since he left her at college six months ago. When Simon finally catches sight of her in Central Park, she looks like a glassy-eyed junkie who runs away when he tries to talk to her. Simon goes to extra-ordinary lengths to find Page and bring her home. This is by no means a straight-forward search and rescue story since there are twists and turns through cults, conspiracies, murder, social media, and DNA testing. As with most of Coben's novels, every time you think you have it figured out, he throws in a monkey wrench! The ending absolutely blew me away-the best Harlan Coben ever!
Calling all Pat Conroy fans . . .
The Lost Prince, a memoir of a friendship between two authors, is really a love letter from one man to the other as he seeks to discover the truth of the falling out which essentially extinguishes their close friendship after 14 years. Living in Rome in the eighties as a struggling writer with a young family, Michael Mewshaw received a call from a slightly less struggling author also living in Rome with a young family by name of Pat Conroy. That call was the start of a close friendship for the next 14 or so years between the two authors as they discovered a shared dysfunctional upbringing marked by physical and psychological abuse. Sharing their personal and professional triumphs and disappointments, not only did they grow close but so too did their families as the two writers moved between Europe and America.
Mewshaw, always susceptible to the charms of the big-hearted and garrulous Conroy, recounts years of scenes with wives, children, and other noted authors-always underscoring the close sense of brotherhood they shared. While Conroy’s star and fortunes rose, Mewshaw struggled professionally, never quite making the jump to mainstream author. But throughout, he had no greater cheerleader than Pat Conroy. Until it stopped- inexplicably. While there occurred a rapprochement of sorts before Conroy died in 2016, the two would not meet again.
In digging for answers, Mewshaw finds that Conroy, always the champion of the underdog, may very well have been his own worst enemy. A most haunting eulogy.
If you are a fan of ghost stories, pick up Jennifer McMahon’s latest novel, The Invited, for a bone chilling read. After an unexpected inheritance, Helen and Nate decide to move to rural Vermont to build their dream home. Unbeknownst to the couple, their new property has a dark history involving the lynching of Hattie Breckenridge, the town witch. Immediately, the couple begins experiencing trouble--tools go missing, unexplained noises, and malicious messages appear at their work site. Helen believes it is Hattie’s ghost and becomes obsessed with the woman and her past. As Helen digs deeper into Hattie's death, it becomes clear that the town may have darker secrets they want to keep hidden. The question becomes is it a ghost haunting their new home, or does someone else want to get them off their land? I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is a perfect mixture of suspense and horror.
Note to Shelf for Young Readers
In the fun, new Moneybunny Series by Cinders McLeod, young children learn about math and finances! Bunnies Bon and Sonny each have big bunny dreams and don’t understand why patience and hard work must occur in order for those things to happen. In EARN IT!, Bon wants to be rich and famous…now! She must learn that earning a dream is just as important as achieving it. In SPEND IT! Sonny wants to buy lots of cool toys but his allowance is only three carrots a week. Sonny learns that bigger and better things cost more, and it takes time to get them. Look out for a new Moneybunny book in the Fall called Save It!